A feast of aural easter treats

Billed as “an afternoon concert for families and friends”, the Old Mutual Encounters Family Picnic, happening in both Jozi and the Mother City, promises to be a suitably laid-back Easter weekend affair. Just how much of a draw card the headline act, veteran Irish folk rock combo Hothouse Flowers will prove is up for grabs. Regardless, with a star-studded line-up of homegrown heroes on the bill, there’s more than enough quality sound to soothe the most frazzled of Easter weekend nerves.

Patrons are invited to pack a picnic, blankets and camper chairs. Added attractions include refreshments and a fully fledged children’s entertainment area for kids under 12. The Family Picnic takes place in Johannesburg at the Emmarentia Dam on April 7 and in Cape Town at the Spier Wine Estate on Easter Sunday — April 8. Hothouse Flowers, Neo Muyanga, Gloria Bosman, Selaelo Selota, Watershed and Concord Nkabinde will be playing in Jo’burg. Cape Town’s concert features Jimmy Dludlu, Karen Zoid, Selaelo Selota, Neo Muyanga, Arno Carstens and the pick of the pack, expatriate singer songwriter Chris Letcher. Gates open at noon and music starts at 1pm. Admission: R150 (adults) or R100 (Jo’burg) or R50 (first child under 12, rest free). Book at Computicket.

Meawnhile, taking a look at Matisyahu, with his rabbinical-­looking black hat and beard, the last thing that you’d guess is that he’s currently the biggest reggae star in the United States. Once a pot-smoking reggae fan and now a devout Hasidic Jew, the man has managed to combine these two disparate worlds, crafting an authentic reggae sound marinated in hip-hop and rock that has earned him a massive fan base comprising mainly of non-Jewish reggae lovers, although his admittedly ultra-extreme religious Jewish beliefs mean that he is also a favourite among members of the Hasidic community.

The man is in South Africa for two shows, at the Sandton Convention Centre on April 7 with dub-rock heroes 340ml and at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on April 11. Tickets are R300 from Computicket (Johannesburg) or R250 from email: [email protected] (Cape Town).

The above grand happenings aside, some of the best events taking place over Easter are those that require a bit of a trek — there are a host of festivals on offer that give music lovers a chance to get out of the stressful city. Splashy Fen, situated in the soft green foothills of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg just outside Underberg, boasts top-drawer talent, making it the Easter weekend’s best bet for festival fundis.

Aside from the usual high-class amenities that make the camping experience less like a scene from Deliverance — think hot showers, ATMs and big-screen rugby — the festival boasts a typically stellar line-up of artists from across a range of genres. Chris Chameleon, The Parlotones, Tony Cox, Lark, Sitter, Jack Hammer, DNA Strings, Tidal Waves, Rory Eliot, Bed on Bricks, New Academics, Southern Gypsey Queens, Jim Neversink, The Hellphones, Taxi Violence, LA Cobra, The Kiff, Myepic, Habit To and many others are on the bill this year.

Tickets for Splashy are available at selected Game stores in KwaZulu-Natal (R285), at Computicket (R310) or at the festival gate (R350). Entrance for children under 12 is free. Website: www.splashyfen.co.za.

Oppikoppi’s major festival takes place in September, but their Easter mini-festival, this year christened the Oppikoppi: More Than Somewhat Festival, is also a formidable live music experience. One thing that must be said for Oppikoppi is that the line-up is a bit more diverse than Splashy’s, with slightly less emphasis on rock in the form of an eclectic mix of names including Selealo Selota, the Piet Planter Jazz Band, 340ml, Kid of Doom, Uju and Love Jones alongside rock acts The Parlotones, Fuzigish, The Hellphones, Wickhead, The Black Hotels, Chris Letcher, New Academics and Hothouse Flowers, who will clearly be doing a lot of travelling this coming weekend. More Than Somewhat takes place at the Oppikoppi farm in Northam from April 6 to 8. Tickets are R299 from Computicket or R249 from the Oppikoppi website (www.oppikoppi.co.za).

All of these loud, blaring sounds are more condusive to hard and fast fun than relaxation and tranquility. If it’s a more sedentary experience you’re after, try the annual Rustlers Valley Friends and Family Party, taking place at Rustler’s Valley, in between Fouriesberg and Ficksberg in the Free State from April 4 to 9. While Easter was once when the hippie-mecca that is Rustlers had its biggest, baddest festival, in recent years they have scaled it right down, since all the revelry was taking its toll on the land. Now a family-oriented affair offering World Music DJs, dancing and drumming, camping at the festival costs R140. Tickets are available at the gates or from on the Rustler’s website: www.rustlers.co.za.

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